Economic Development and Development Economics (Presidential Address)

Syed Nawab Haider Naqvi


To state that development economics is about economic
development is now considered beyond debate. But opinions differ about
what constitutes economic development and its proper index; in
particular whether the growth of per capita income adequately captures
its flavour. Thus, instead of being regarded, a La Lewis, as just a
synonym for capital accumulation going above a certain critical level,
development economics is now also required to respond to such challenges
as raising the quality of life that people succeed in achieving by
living longer; by being more literate in addition to being more
prosperous; and, environmentally speaking, by making the development
process sustainable. Indeed, our discipline is being asked to encompass
an ever wider set of problems and venture into domains where it has not
entered before: namely, the choices that people make; the economic and
political freedoms they enjoy; the heavy incidence of poverty among the
least privileged in the society, including the rural poor; the unjust
social and economic structures that must be changed; the regulatory
framework that needs to be evolved to enable the market to
work-hopefully in the interest of the society. What complicates matters
even more is that to be able to address many of these issues,
development economics must transcend the self-imposed boundaries of
strict positivism and acquire an overarching ethical vision. If
mainstream economics is (rightly) regarded as a difficult science,
development economics is even more so.

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